iran vote 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran's governance has worsened in the past two years under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration, according to a report released Thursday by monitoring group Freedom House.
"Countries at the Crossroads," an annual survey of government performance in 30 strategically important countries worldwide, showed a decline in Iran's democratic character since 2005.
Political interference in the judicial system has intensified, cronyism has become more pervasive and violations of civil liberties have increased, according to the report.
"While the world has been outraged by the recent brutal treatment of Iranian Americans visiting family in Iran, two of whom are still held hostage by the Iranian regime, the Iranian government's actions have also shown an increased disregard for ordinary citizens living in the country," said Freedom House executive director Jennifer Windsor.
"The regime increasingly tramples individual rights and puts the state at the service of an elite that is dominated by senior clerics and the Revolutionary Guard."
Corruption is rife in Iran and the State Audit Court has revealed numerous cases of embezzlement from state agencies, the report said, citing $6 billion in oil revenues that was never deposited in the national treasury last year.
Despite Ahmadinejad's promise to eliminate cronyism, he has been openly accused of giving numerous government positions to friends and relatives, read the report.
Members of the Revolutionary Guard are gaining preferential access to state assets, apparently through their connections to Ahmadinejad's administration, the report continued, citing multi-billion dollar contracts won without competitive bidding.
Meanwhile, the government has tightened restrictions on free expression and assembly, as evidenced in recent crackdowns on student and labor union leaders and on activists campaigning for women's rights, read the report. It has also continued to shut down reformist newspapers and to threaten or imprison journalists who criticize the regime, the report said.
"Increased repression is taking place against the backdrop of Ahmadinejad's failure to deliver on his promises to curb corruption and to improve the living standards of ordinary Iranians," said Daniel Calingaert, deputy director of programs at Freedom House. "As we can see on the Internet, where there still is some room for free expression, Iranians are extremely frustrated with the regime."
"Countries at the Crossroads" provides a comparative evaluation of government performance in four touchstone areas of democratic governance: accountability and public voice, civil liberties, rule of law and anticorruption and transparency. These areas of performance are examined in 30 countries that are at a critical crossroads in determining their political future.
Freedom House has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Iran since 1972.